Under Head Coach Gwen Harris the Penn track and field program has been on the rise and the 2004-05 season was no different. After a difficult but promising cross country season the Red and Blue proved they will be a team to reckon with in the future by breaking six indoor Penn records, boasting a Heptagonal and ECAC Champion and five All-East performers. The outdoor campaign was no different as the Quakers established eight new Penn records and an Ivy League Record en route to a fourth-place finish at the Heptagonal Championships, a Penn Relays medal and eight All-East honorees.
The Quakers were coming off their best cross country season in a decade heading into the 2004 season, but they were also without their top-three distance runners in All-American Emily Logan, Elaine Lord and Kim Milans who graduated. A quartet of underclassmen knew they had big shoes to fill and took control of their own destiny by stepping up for the team when it counted. Seniors Claire Duncan and Anne-Marie Allander lead a team of 15 newcomers and three sophomores. Duncan and the quartet of sophomores Jen Blank and Jackie Dunn and freshmen Claire Kim and Stacy Kim finished in the top-five at the Heptagonal Championships in New York City and at the NCAA Regional Championships at Penn State.
Penn opened the season with a fourth-place finish at the Fordham Invitational at Van Courtland Park in New York City. Claire Kim was the first Quaker to cross the finish line. She was followed by Blank, Dunn, sophomore Tina Morrison and junior Jill Connell.
The Red and Blue ran against some of the top teams in the nation at the Paul Short Invitational, taking 17th out of 31 teams. The following week, the Quakers took third at the La Salle Invitational and 12th at the Penn State National Meet two weeks later.
The Quakers were a very young and inexperienced group when it came to big meets, but they held their heads high. Despite an eighth-place team finish at the Heptagonal Championships, the top-five runners managed to all run under 19 minutes for the 5K course. No team prior to this had all run under 19 minutes as a group. The same runners outdid themselves the following week, leading the Red and Blue to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Regionals. Once again, the top-five runners completed the 6K course in under 23 minutes and showed that this group has a wonderful future up ahead.
Indoor Track and Field
The indoor season was highlighted by six new school records, an ECAC Champion in freshman Jesse Carlin, a Heptagonal champion in junior Charity Payne and seven student-athletes earning All-Ivy League honors. Penn finished fifth at the League Championships in the team competition with 58 points, but only five points separated the Quakers from the third-place finisher, Columbia, and 16 from the runner-up, Yale.
Senior Izu Emeagwali continued to dominate the sprinting events and proved why she is one of the Quakers most decorated short sprinters. Emeagwali shaved .09 seconds off her 55m time and tied Van Grover’s 18-year old program record. The Rockaway, N.Y. native won the 55m at the Lafayette-Rider Invitational en route to tying the record. She also captured the 200m run at that meet, clocking in at 25.07 which is the second-fastest time in school history and earned ECAC Female Athlete of the Week honors for her efforts. Emeagwali went on to finish fourth in the 60m at the Heptagonal Championships and fifth in the 200m and ran the anchor leg of the second-place 4x400m relay team.
Sophomore Jeanette Curtis made a name for herself in the 60m hurdles, taking the runner-up position at the Heptagonal Championships and setting a new Penn record in the process. Curtis’ 8.79 is .04 seconds faster than Jaluan Gair’s six-year old record.
A new face to the Penn program made quite the impact in her rookie campaign. Carlin broke two individual school records and won the 500m race at the ECAC Championships. The Staten Island, N.Y. native established a new school record in the process 1:11.77 which was the fastest time in the nation in 2005. Carlin finished fourth in the 400m at the Heptagonal Championships where she broke the school record in the semifinals. The new record stands at 56.27, which is .48 seconds faster than Jen Roy’s mark set in 1997.
Senior Sam Crook has been a constant asset to the Red and Blue and the 2005 season was no different. The team captain broke her own school record in the pole vault, clearing 12’6 and taking the runner-up prize at the Heptagonal Championships in the process.
The Quakers turned heads with their relays teams. The 4x400m relay team not only established a new record, but proved Penn has a great deal of speed. The quartet of Carlin, freshman Shaunee Morgan, sophomore Krysta Copeland and Emeagwali broke the seven-year old program record with a time of 3:47.20 at the Heptagonal Championships to take second.
At the ECAC Championships, Morgan teamed up with the Kim twins and sophomore Tina Morrison to take second in the distance medley relay and earn All-East honors.
Penn had several student-athletes earn All-Ivy League honors and help the Quakers to their fifth-place conference finish. Payne was Penn’s lone conference champion. The shot putter successfully defended her Heptagonal title with a throw of 45-7.5, which is a personal best and second all-time in program history. Sophomore Shani Boston placed second in the pentathlon with 3,539 points.
Seven Quakers qualified for the ECAC Championships putting the Red and Blue up against some of the toughest competition on the East Coast. A very successful indoor season gave Penn momentum heading into the outdoor season.
Outdoor Track and Field
When the 2005 outdoor season was completed, the Quakers had eight new school records, an Ivy League record, a nationally-ranked relay team and a Penn Relays shield. It was a group of individuals who worked together as a team that brought success to this hungry young squad.
The Red and Blue picked up right where they left off indoors. Penn started the season off with two home meets on Franklin Field. At the Penn Invitational, Ivy League foe Cornell pushed the Quakers to do even better. Two records fell on that day as the 4x100m and 4x400m relays records were broken for the first time in 2005 - but it wouldn't be the last.
The following week, Penn hosted Yale and Princeton on Franklin Field. The Quakers defeated their Ancient Eight foes by winning six individual races and both relays.
At the Penn Relays Carnival, the 4x400m relays won the Heptagonal Race, setting a new Penn Relays meet record of 3:42.62 in the process. It was the Quakers’ first Penn Relays title since 1992. The team ran the ninth-fastest time on the day and advanced to the ECAC Championship final the following day where it took fourth. The 4x800m relay team of Claire Kim, senior Rachel Dailey, Stacy Kim and freshman Jamie Liberti grabbed a fourth-place finish in the College section of the 4x800m. The team crossed the finish line in a time 9:07.71. Penn’s sprint medley team of Carlin, Morgan, Emeagawali and Morrison teamed up for the Sprint Medley and Championship of America. The foursome finished eighth overall with a time of 3:55.13, which established a new school record.
Several noteworthy performances were handed in at the Outdoor Heptagonal Championships. Morgan finished second in the both the 100m and 200m and Emeagwali finished third in the 100m and seventh in the 200m. McCurdy ran to a second-place finish in the 400m hurdles after inching closer to the school record in the semifinals. She stands second all-time with a time of 61.68. Payne finished as the runner-up in the shot put, while Boston placed fifth in both the shot and long jump. Freshman Brittany Middlebrooks grabbed the third spot in the long jump with a career best of 18-7.75. Chisholm took fourth in the hammer, Claire Kim placed fourth in the 3,000m run and Morrison grabbed the fifth spot in the 800m run.
Twelve student-athletes qualified for the ECAC Championships which is the most qualifiers in Penn history. As a team the Quakers finished fifth with seven placewinners and 45 points another best in Penn history. Crook won the meet with a school record jump of 13-1 in the pole vault. Carlin broke the 400m record and took second, Duncan finished third in the 5,000m run, while Chisholm finished eighth in the hammer. All three relays placed including the 4x800m tandem of Morrison, Connell and the Kim twins, who crossed the finish line second.
At the NCAA East Regionals, Penn competed in four events Crook was seventh in the pole vault, Morrison was 19th in the 800m, Duncan placed 10th in the 3,000m steeplechase, Stacy Kim was 13th in the 3,000m and the 4x400m placed eighth. Crook earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships where she cleared 13-1 in the semifinals.
On an individual scale, the 2005 outdoor season was a coming out party for several newcomers and for the veterans - it was payment for a career of hard work.
For the newcomers, Carlin was not the only rookie to burst onto the sprint scene in 2005. Morgan announced her arrival with a pair of runner-up finishes in the 100m and 200m at the League Championships. She broke the 16-year old 200m record in a time of 24.14, which is .37 faster than Christelle Williams’ mark. Morgan ran a wind-aided 11.92 in the 100m as well, which is the fastest time by a Penn sprinter in program history.
Before her rookie season was over, Carlin had one more individual record to break. She broke the 400m record running a time of 54.41. She finished third in that event at the Heptagonal Championships, second at the ECAC Championships and qualified for the NCAA East Regional. When all was said and done the rookie was a second-team All-Ivy League selection, a four-time All-East recipient and the owner of seven school records.
Veteran Crook cleared 13-1 at the ECAC Championship to win the event and establish a new pole vault mark at Penn. Crook’s outdoor record is over a foot better than any other vaulter in Penn history. Crook finished second at the Heptagonal Championships and went on to take seventh at the NCAA East Regional. She earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships where she cleared 13-1 for the second time in 2005 and just missed clearing 13-5.25.
Duncan continued to impress in the 3,000m steeplechase. She broke her own record twice during the outdoor season and finished her career with a time of 10:29.33. She took eighth at the Heptagonal Championships and 10th at the NCAA East Regional.
The Red and Blue relay teams shined during the outdoor campaign. The quartet of Carlin, Morgan, Copeland and Emeagwali broke the 4x100m record almost every time they ran it. They took 1.06 seconds off the previous record set five years ago and established a new Ivy League record when they placed sixth at the ECAC Championships. The new mark currently stands at 46.30. The Quakers also finished third in the 400m relay at the Heptagonal Championships.
The 4x400m relay team saw great success in 2005 as well. The foursome of Carlin, Morgan, McCurdy and Emeagwali shaved almost five seconds off the seven-year old record. The squad won the Quakers’ first relay medal at the Penn Relays in 13 years, finished in the top-four at the ECAC Championships and took eighth at the NCAA East Regional. The record stands at 3:39.01 - but don't expect that mark to stand for very long.
With several Quakers on the brink of making appearances at the NCAA Championships and only two All-Ivy League and three All-East performers graduating, this talented group of student-athletes is looking ahead to another record-setting season.
Written by Heather Palmer